The State of Healthcare Content Marketing

As the industry's leading report focusing on content marketing, the State of Healthcare Content Marketing is designed to deliver insights that inform and optimize your content strategy.

Our fourth-annual report illuminates the role content continues to play in driving brand and revenue growth for hospitals and health systems. A sample of 50+ healthcare marketing executives, representing many of the nation’s leading healthcare brands, completed this year’s survey.

Here are highlights from the 2019 report.

The Adoption of Content Marketing

Nearly 8 in 10 healthcare marketers (77%) are currently using content marketing, with another 18% planning to launch content marketing initiatives in 2019.

The Trend: The active or planned use of content marketing among healthcare organizations continues its double-digit growth, as reflected in the survey data below:

    • 2019 95% 95%
    • 2018 83% 83%
    • 2017 69% 69%

    The Goals for Content Marketing

    While brand building remains the No. 1 “why” behind content marketing initiatives again this year, healthcare organizations increasingly leverage content to drive patient volume and revenue growth with nearly half (45%) citing lead generation as the primary goal.

    Here are the top five goals for content marketing in 2019:

    The Trend: The year-over-year trend in content marketing goals reflects the importance of building a strong brand while ramping up efforts to generate, engage and convert leads:

    • Brand awareness = holds at #1
    • Engagement = up from #3
    • Lead generation = up from #4
    • Patient loyalty = down from #2
    • Lead nurturing = holds at #5

    The Effectiveness of Content Marketing

    Along with content’s increased prevalence as part of the healthcare marketing mix, this year’s survey respondents are nearly unanimous (99%) in describing their content marketing strategies as effective.

    The Trend: The percentage of healthcare marketers who consider their content marketing strategies successful is up from 93% who felt the same way last year.

    The Strategy for Content Marketing

    While nearly nine in 10 marketers (89%) have a content strategy or will create one this year, less than one third (27%) have taken steps to formalize the plan.

    The Trend: This percentage is consistent with last year’s report and likely reflects the challenges of matching an increased demand for content with the bandwidth to align with business objectives.

    The ROI of Content Marketing

    Again this year, 99% of marketers surveyed expect their content marketing budgets to increase or stay the same.

    The Trend: The 2019 content marketing budget is nearly identical to last year, and this consistency of investment clearly illustrates the emergence of content marketing as one of the most effective tools in a modern toolkit.

    The Tactics of Content Marketing

    Not surprisingly, digital dominates the list of channels used to deliver content for healthcare organizations. Here are the top five according to those surveyed:

    Rounding out the top 10 are infographics (36%), illustrations/photos (31%), in-person events (27%), print magazines (22%) and microsites (18%).

    The Trend: There are no major changes from 2018 with digital gaining prominence while a significant percentage continue investing in print, following in the footsteps of Facebook and other global brands as “everything else is going digital” in 2019 according to Content Marketing Institute.

    Other Insights on Healthcare Content Marketing

    Along with this benchmark data, the 2019 report yields new data points around content promotion, optimization and integration with marketing technology.

    The question: Which paid advertising methods do you use to promote/distribute content?

    The insight: Social and search engine marketing commands the lion's share of digital advertising dollars to promote content. This is despite the fact that of distinct search queries in Google, only 3.4% resulted in a click on a paid ad—and the number drops to 2.6% if expanded to all search queries.

    The question: Which of the following describes your efforts to optimize content for search?

    The insight: Search engine optimization (SEO) is an area of tremendous untapped potential in healthcare content marketing, with more than 40% of those surveyed not using SEO to make their content discoverable by Google and other search engines. The opportunity is clear: One in every 20 Google searches is health related and search drives three times more visitors to hospital sites compared to non-search traffic sources.

    The question: Which of the following describes your efforts to leverage marketing automation to personalize and distribute content?

    The insight: Like SEO, marketing automation takes a healthcare content strategy to the next level by leveraging technology to find, engage and convert leads. While adoption is low with only 3 in 10 automating content-related functions, look for these percentages to increase significantly as the 2018 Healthcare Digital Marketing Trends Survey found 89% of marketers will continue or increase their investments in email marketing and automation next year while 92% will maintain or grow their content marketing spend.

    Let's Keep the Conversation Going!

    The State of Healthcare Content Marketing Report is sponsored by Healthcare Insight magazine and True North Custom—the content agency for health care. Find out how we can level up your brand and revenue growth initiatives through integrated content strategies.

    The 2018 State of Healthcare Content Marketing

    Content continues to evolve as an essential component of the modern marketer's toolkit.

    The third-annual State of Healthcare Content Marketing Report is sponsored by True North Custom and developed in partnership with the Healthcare Insight advisory board.

    This year's report is based on a representative sample of healthcare marketing professionals with purview over more than 150 hospitals and 500+ urgent care centers, physician practices, and other facilities nationwide.

    Here are the highlights from this year’s State of Healthcare Content Marketing Report:

    (Nearly) Everybody's Doing It — Or Will Soon

    More than 8 in 10 (83%) used content marketing compared to 69% the previous year. An additional 14% plan to employ content marketing this year, while only 3% are not using content marketing and have no plans to start. Nearly all of those who use content marketing (90%) ranked it a high priority compared to other marketing and communications initiatives.

    Activity Outpaces Achievement

    More than 9 in 10 (93%) find content marketing effective, although most described their efforts as somewhat effective (58%). Only 36% called their efforts very effective. Responses were almost identical last year.

    Content Marketing Continues to Mature

    Nearly 9 in 10 (89%) have a content strategy, up from 52% last year. Only 33% documented their strategy—although that represents double-digit growth over the 21% who did so in 2016.

    Not Much Change in Channel Mix

    Four of the top five content marketing tactics are digital, with social media content well above the rest, followed by e-newsletters, videos, and blogs. Print magazines rose to number 4 from number 7 last year.

    ROI Remains the Holy Grail

    The majority of respondents (65%) now consider themselves successful at tracking ROI—only 44% gave that response last year. However, only 10% consider themselves very successful at tracking ROI. This disparity between adoption and demonstrated achievement is likely tied to selecting brand awareness, patient loyalty, and engagement as top goals instead of more quantifiable objectives like lead generation and cross-selling.

    Learn More

    Read the full 2018 State of Healthcare Content Marketing Report.